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Tampa Bay Bucs’ defense riddled in lopsided loss to Atlanta

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Last year, it was Lovie.

This year, it is Mike.

And for the Tampa Bay Bucs, the result has been the same old Smith. Once again, the Bucs’ defense let them down Thursday night in a 43-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons that really wasn’t that close.

In a matter of days, the Bucs have given up 1,087 yards, 58 first downs and 73 points in back-to-back losses to the Raiders and Falcons. Tampa Bay beat Atlanta, 31-24, in the season opener. But Sunday’s result suggests how well the Falcons are playing and how poorly the Bucs are.

In two weeks, for instance, the Bucs have allowed 63 completions in 93 attempts with no interceptions.

“We’re 3-5,” Koetter said. “That’s where we’re at. We’re 3-5 at the halfway point and that’s what we’ve earned. That’s what we talked about in the locker room. We’ve got half the season left. I’ve got to figure out a way to make this team play up to their potential. Because I don’t like we are right now. That’s 100 percent on me.”

The Bucs were close for a half, trailing only 20-14 at the break. But the Falcons pulled ahead 33-14 going into the final quarter.

Quarterback Jameis Winston left the game limping with a knee injury. He swore he was healthy, and as he left the interview room, broke into an impromptu dance to prove that his leg was fine.

There wasn’t much else for the Bucs to take pride in. Winston threw for 261 yards, and Mike Evans caught 11 passes for 150 yards and two scores. The Bucs, however, rushed for only 73 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry.

The Bucs are home against Chicago a week from Sunday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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